August 29, 2014

Stem cells in adults are responsible for tissue renewal and many cancers. So, the hunt for stem cells is important and has already been successful, with stem cell populations identified in countless types of tissues. Stem cells in the ovary, however, were shy to show themselves until a recent study using a marker for the Wnt protein Lgr5.

In adults, stem cells are responsible for maintaining homeostasis during normal wear and tear of a tissue. The ovary and its ovary surface epithelium (OSE) experience remodeling during adulthood, yet stem cells of the ovary have been hard to find. A recent paper by Ng and colleagues describes the identification of stem cells in the ovary using markers for the Wnt target protein Lgr5. Lgr5 marks stem cells in several epithelial tissues. Ng and colleagues identified Lgr5+ cells in the mouse ovary starting from ovary organogenesis and lasting into adulthood. Using lineage tracing, Ng and colleagues confirmed that Lgr5+ cells are, in fact, stem cells that contribute to development, homeostasis, and repair of the OSE and associated structures. In the images above, Lgr5+ cells (green) are visible in embryonic (left) and postnatal (middle, right) ovarian tissue.

Ng, A., Tan, S., Singh, G., Rizk, P., Swathi, Y., Tan, T., Huang, R., Leushacke, M., & Barker, N. (2014). Lgr5 marks stem/progenitor cells in ovary and tubal epithelia Nature Cell Biology, 16 (8), 745-757 DOI: 10.1038/ncb3000
Adapted by permission from Macmillan Publishers Ltd, copyright ©2014

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